The Caterer

Tragus secures funds for expansion drive

14 July 2004
Tragus secures funds for expansion drive

Owner of the Café Rouge and Bella Italia chains, Tragus Holdings, is on the acquisition trail after securing a further £13.5m of financing.

The company is planning an aggressive expansion programme that aims to see up to 20 new Bella Italia or Café Rouge restaurants opening by the end of May 2005.

Café Rouge: number of outlets could triple
Some 10 new sites are already signed up or in advanced negotiations. The latest Café Rouge, which opened in Portsmouth last month, is already trading ahead of expectations, while Café Rouge Bristol is expected to open in August. Chief finance officer Harry Morley said he could see the current number of 78 Café Rouge restaurants tripling eventually and the group's 64 Bella Italia restaurants doubling. Tragus said the new money was secured from Barclays Bank after an "excellent" second year of trading, with like-for-like sales in the final quarter to 31 May up 10%. "We are now in our third year of trading and, following the consolidation of year one and the investment of year two, are now fully focused on growing the business," said Finlay Scott, chief executive. Tragus, which is backed by venture capital firm ECI Partners, was formed as part of a management buy-in of Whitbread's Pelican restaurants division in June 2002. The group owns and operates 156 restaurants in four separate divisions: Café Rouge, Bella Italia, Mamma Amalfi and Brasseries. *Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 15 July 2004*
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